Chinese State Circus

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Chinese State Circus mobile box office, in Alexandra Park, London, 2007

The Chinese State Circus is a touring circus that aims to present Chinese circus arts to European audiences. The show is based on Chinese acrobatic acts. All the performers come from China and are trained in the Chinese tradition of Ma Xi, or hippodrama (horse theatre). But no live animals are used in the Chinese State Circus shows.

The show combines kung fu martial arts from the Shaolin Temple, artists from the Peking Opera and other Chinese speciality acts. Continuity is provided by the figure of the Monkey King who appears between acts. The show also includes a lion dance, plate spinners, diabolos, aerial silks and an excerpt from the Chinese opera.

Chinese acrobatics is a common form of art among the people. It has a long history with a distinct national style, evolving from the Chinese people’s everyday life and work.

Historical records, ancient carvings and decorative patterns on utensils show the origin of Chinese acrobatics more than two thousands years ago in the period of the Warring States. During the Quin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C. – 220 A.D.) acrobatic artistes developed a wide repertoire, and acrobatics was thus called “the show of a hundred tricks.” It reached a high level as a performing art by the Han Dynasty.

Acrobatics has played an important role in cultural exchanges between China and other nations. In the past 35 years, Chinese acrobatic troupes have toured more than 100 countries and regions throughout the world. Their excellent performances were warmly welcomed and highly appreciated by the people of various countries.

The Chinese State Circus was an idea started back in the 1990s after director Phillip Gandey witnessed a group of Chinese acrobats performing to great acclaim at the Monte Carlo Circus Festival. He was astounded at the quality, depth and sheer diversity of such Chinese acrobatic troupes.


The circus has toured in the United Kingdom since 1992.

As of April 2011, the circus will be returning to the Gandey Organisation where future continuation of the circus will be decided.

The Chinese State Circus made history by being the first international entertainment Angola has hosted in over 40 years in December 2012 with their show Mulan.

They continue to tour in 2013 throughout the UK with their brand new Yin Yang show with a full schedule of tour dates and locations.

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